A 2010 poll commissioned by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada found that two-thirds of Canadians had tried losing weight in the past 5 years. And whether it was by eliminating food groups, using meal-replacement bars and shakes, trying out weight-loss supplements or fasting, only 17% of those who were overweight and 8% of those who were obese managed to lose at least five pounds and keep them off for a five-year period. Only 8%-17% maintained a weight loss of more than five pounds!! That’s a pretty terrible margin to spend months, weeks or even a day of your life force-feeding yourself weird non-foods or depriving yourself of food so you’re constantly hungry and irritable.
But this wacky world we live in and the big business that is the diet industry would have us believe that counting almonds or eating 100-calorie snack packs or cutting out whole food groups is the way we’ll achieve health and happiness. Spoiler alert: It’s not.
If you’ve ever put yourself through the insanity of dieting, you are not alone. In fact, you’re with the majority of the population. But just because it’s what most people are doing and it’s what you’ve gotten used to, it doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it. Here’s to giving up all the sh*tty things diets make us do like…
1. Being deserving of a Masters in Mathematics for all the calorie and/or macro-counting you do
Oh calorie counting. Just think of all the useful things your brain could spend time doing if it wasn’t busy comparing and contrasting the calorie content of half a dozen granola bars. You could likely have written several books, learned Mandarin and watched every season of Doctor Who and Star Trek. (Or caught up on every season missed of The Bachelor #timewellspent.)
And then there’s macro-counting. Hot damn is that an insane mathematical process you have to do on a constant basis. If you’ve macro-counted for an extended period of time, please shoot me a message. I want you to do my taxes. My accountant ain’t got nothing on you.
2. Weighing things that do not need to be weighed
As if counting out individual almonds isn’t enough, many diets will have you measuring and weighing just about everything. Blueberries, spinach, chickpeas… heaven forbid you eat “too much” of any of them and throw off your calories or macros for the day.
Here is an extensive list of things that need to be weighed. 1. Babies. They’re growing and stuff. 2. Bulk food items. You gotta pay for that sh*t. 3. I’m out. You know what doesn’t need to be weighed? Kale. If you wanna eat kale, eat the damn kale. If you don’t want to eat kale, that’s okay too. Have some spinach, or some broccoli, or… whatever you like. Just. Don’t. Weight. It.
3. Eating things that should in no way be construed as food
Companies looooove coming out with products you “need” in order to lose weight and become those happy, smiling people you see in the “after” pictures. Instead of actually eating whole foods that nourish your body, when you need them, and to your unique hunger cues, you can ignore everything your body is telling you and stick to a strict diet of non-foods.
Take the slim fast diet for example. In it you get two shakes or smoothies for two meals, three 100-calorie snack packs — that can be such nutritious *heavy on the sarcasm* options as sour cream & onion baked chips and chocolate pretzel poppers — and then one 500-calorie meal (because even on a product-based diet plan we still gotta keep your math skills up to par! Get your kale scale out!) Now what’s in these tasty shakes that you get to have for breakfast and lunch every damn day for as long as you’re on the diet? Well, in their creamy chocolate shake we have…
INGREDIENTS: WATER, CALCIUM CASEINATE, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CANOLA OIL, COCOA (PROCESSED WTH ALKALI), MALTODEXTRIN, CELLULOSE GEL, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, GLYCERIN, POTASSIUM CITRATE, SALT, SOY LECITHIN, SUCRALOSE, CARAGEENAN, SODIUM CITRATE, CITRIC ACID, CARAMEL COLOR. VITAMINS AND MINERALS: MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, VITAMIN E ACETATE, ZINC GLUCONATE, FERRIC ORTHOPHOSPHATE, NIACINAMIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, MANGANESE SULFATE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, CHROMIUM CHLORIDE, FOLIC ACID, BIOTIN, SODIUM MOLYBDATE, POTASSIUM IODIDE, PHYLLOQUINONE, SODIUM SELENITE, CYANOCOBALAMIN, CHOLECALCIFEROL.
Mmm… sounds delicious! Pour me a glass of that. But not two. I’m slimmin’. Fast.
4. Eating the same thing until you want to puke and/or murder the person who invented that thing
Okay, so maybe you forgo the whole processed “food” diet and instead go the whole foods route. There are plenty of insane diets to choose from. Cabbage soup multiple times a day anyone? Or how about lemon juice, water, maple syrup and cayenne pepper? Yeah cause you’re a hummingbird. You can live off that sh*t. You go into it all high on the excitement of all the weight loss that’s sure to come and the clarity of knowing what you “can” and “can’t” eat. And for a variety of reasons you might actually start to feel good a couple days in. But then, whether it’s after 5 days or 2 weeks you realize whatever you’re eating isn’t “actually really enjoyable” as you so adamantly declared on the first day, you realize you can’t possibly stomach another ounce of the stuff and you end up like this.
5. Cutting out whole food groups for virtually no reason
Once you’ve graduated through all the fad diets and realized how insane and ineffective they are, it’s pretty easy to get sucked into the diets in disguise realm. These are the diets that claim to be just about health but given that they’re cutting out or greatly limiting whole food groups it’s easy for the diet-brain to take over. Suddenly every pimple or bloated belly can be blamed on that half a bagel you ate two days ago.
Pick up one book: gluten is killing you. The next, it’s fat. Another: it’s sugar. Damn it, what is with all these food groups and macronutrients trying to destroy the human race!? Here’s a thought: They’re not. Sure, there might be foods you’re genuinely sensitive or allergic to, and if that’s the case, noticing you no longer have terrible ongoing cramps, bloating, or other symptoms when you take a break from them will make not eating them pretty easy. No restrictive diet required.
But if it’s just the latest health craze getting in your brain and making you think you have to cut something out even though you’re not entirely sure why and you don’t feel all that different with or without it — run from whatever or whomever is convincing you of these crazy rules. Run far, far away.
Giving up diets
Diets are a sh*tty, sh*tty waste if time. When we quit obsessing about weight loss we get to get back to actually living our lives. We can learn to eat whole, nourishing foods that make us feel great because we want to, not because we have to. We can get in touch with what our bodies need and how they feel when eating certain foods. We can be at peace with food and our bodies and quit following insane plans and ridiculous rules. We can quit trying to make our bodies look a certain way and stop fearing how every piece of food is going to make us look. We can be okay with however the heck our bodies want to look. It’s time for us to all just be. Diet-Free.
I am currently taking on new clients who want to give up dieting and start living. Check out my work with me page and don’t hesitate to get in touch about how you can start waving goodbye to all of the sh*tty things diets have made you do and start living the healthy, happy life you want.